Tokyo, Japan is a city of paradoxes, with imperial majesty set against the exciting pace of cutting-edge trends in fashion, art, technology and food. You’ll find high-rises that hide the city’s best sushi bars near cobblestone streets that seem straight from Europe. Woven together, these dissonances make this modern wonderland a remarkable place to experience. Japan’s most fascinating discoveries are not highlighted on a map but rather found behind closed doors, open only to those who know enough to ask.
Shinjuku, an area known for architecture and nightlife, contains many hidden culinary gems. Don’t miss lunch at Sushi Sho, discreetly housed in the Yorindo office building. The esteemed chef, Keiji Nakazawa, creates just 20 bara chirashi sets – a style of sushi where fish and vegetables are diced, flavored and served in a bowl over sushi rice – daily, along with his regular menu. Shinjuku Golden Gai, an enclave of six alleyways, is comprised of more than 200 exclusive bars, clubs and restaurants. Many are found behind unmarked doors and have just a handful of seats, hosting affluent artists, businessmen and Japanese celebrities. We’ll arrange a private guide to help you navigate this area and gain access into these clandestine venues themed by era and interest, from jazz to horse races to Parisian art. Another trend-spotter favorite is Marunouchi, known as the “Wall Street of Tokyo,” tucked between the Tokyo Train Station and the Imperial Palace. Exit the Central Gate and walk one block to Nakadori Avenue, a street of designer shops, wine bars, cafes and bakeries removed from the hectic pace of the commercial center. Before leaving, enjoy a glass of wine and sweeping views of the city at Rigoletto Wine and Bar on the seventh floor of the Shin-Marunouchi building.
You can’t go to Tokyo without enjoying the fashion mecca Shibuya. For a more insider experience, walk the charming neighborhood of Daikanyama on Shibuya’s western edge, with its trendy boutiques, galleries and eateries. Down the hill from Daikanyama and along the cherry tree-lined Meguro River sits Nakameguro, an upscale neighborhood with a European feel. You’ll uncover new restaurants, local ceramic designers and galleries. Kijima restaurant specializes in kakuni (simmered pork belly) and nikujaga (beef, potato and onion stew) served tableside by your own kimono-clad waitress. If you have a sweet tooth, head to Higashiya, a refined confection and teashop selling artful mochi, a traditional Japanese sweet made from pounded rice paste.
We can to take you beyond the bustling city centers to hidden neighborhoods where you can experience the cultural wonders that remain elusive to so many international travelers.